After the success of District 9 and even Elysium, Neill Blomkamp delved deeper into his near-future forte, focusing on the concept of AI. Instead of presenting such a concept in an elegant manner like fellow 2015 film Ex Machina, we get an overly-sentimental, verbose movie with generic, wooden characters and a huge excess of unnecessary filler that serves as the ultimate detriment to the plot.
In a world where crime is patrolled by robotic police officers, one unit is stolen by a young weapons manufacturer Deon Wilson, played by Dev Patel, and given new programming, he becomes the first robot to possess the ability of thinking and feeling. Sounds like the beginning of something special, right? Not in Chappie’s case. The scientist is then abducted by Die Antwoord. Yes, the drugs haven’t kicked in, you read that correctly: Die Antwoord! South African rap-rave group who cannot act to save their lives. Their heavy inclusion in the film makes for some tongue-n-cheek, nonsensical and often stereotypical moments, like Yolandi reading Chappie a fuckin’ bedtime story, or Ninja teaching Chappie how to be a “real gangster”. So anyway, he’s abducted and forced to install his AI software into the stolen robot, to suit Die Antwoord’s advantage. The bot awakes in a terrified state of mind, like a confused child. They name him Chappie and begin to teach him words and behaviour. The scientist is forced out of their hideout and Die Antwoord adopt a parental bond with Chappie. Yep — that movie got made.
After their impending deadline of a 20 million rand debt to a powerful gangster draws closer, Ninja grows impatient with Chappie’s development cue and attempts to expedite the process by teaching him what I mentioned earlier “to be a real gangster”. Chappie then adopts the vernacular of a generic, one-dimensional street thug that really isn’t compelling to watch at all. Anyway, some time passes and the corporate Vincent becomes the primary antagonist, played by Hugh Jackman. A battle ensues, Yolandi is killed and Chappie and Deon storm the office of Tetravaal factory, Chappie beats Vincent to near-death and inserts Yolandi’s conscience in a template robot. Wow. What a corny ending.
VERDICT — An insanely disappointing, monumental mess that serves up a story simply not worth telling. An often-times offensive, accidental comedy that is one of the worst movies ever made.
RATING: 1.0 — EMBARRASSING
MVP: For the life of me, I honestly cannot name a SINGLE good aspect of the film.